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Science & Technology » Environment Share

Better environmental management key to tackle migration of people: UN report

Better environmental management key to tackle migration of people: UN report

New Delhi, Jun 17 (UNI) Migration due to environmental reasons, including land degradation, desertification and natural disasters, has acquired mammoth proportions across the globe, and requires better management to reverse it, says a UN report.
Sea level rise, resource conflicts, land grabbing, industrial accidents and large infrastructure projects such as hydroelectric dams are other causes of peoples' displacement, according to the report.
Land degradation is forcing people across the world to flee their homes and homelands.
Already, more than 500 million hectares of farmland – an area more than half the size of China – have been completely abandoned due to drought, desertification and land mismanagement.
'Over the next few decades, worldwide, close to 135 million people are at risk of being permanently displaced by desertification and land degradation.
If they don’t migrate, the young and unemployed are also at more risk of falling victim to extremist groups that exploit and recruit the disillusioned and vulnerable,' Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said in the report.
'Let’s give young, rural populations better choices and options.
We need policies that enable young people to own and rehabilitate degraded land… Let us give young people the chance to bring that natural capital back to life and into production,' he said.
Stories of migration caused by environmental degradation pepper human history.
For example, the Dust Bowl exodus from the American Prairies in the 1930s, was a combination of severe drought and poor land use.
It led to massive soil erosion and the United States’ biggest internal migration, the report said.
'Recently, the 2006-2009 drought in Syria was the worst the country has experienced in modern times.
Exacerbated by climate change, the drought led to significant displacement of people from rural to urban areas which may have also contributed to the outbreak of civil war in 2011,' the report recalled.
Land degradation affects where and how people live, said UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim.
It drives human displacement by threatening lives over the short term and making people’s livelihoods untenable over the long term, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable.
Environmental migration is a warning sign that people are failing to manage the environment sustainably.
“When you look at the root causes of displacement, environmental change or degradation is often a part of the story, so better environmental management should be part of the solution,” says Oli Brown, a disasters and conflicts expert with UN Environment.
In this direction, UN Environment is working with other agencies of the world body on the 2018 Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
The Compact is supposed to develop a new international framework for the management and protection of migrants and displaced people.
If, Mr Brown said, this happens — a big “if” — this will be a watershed moment in the international management of migration.


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